Reconstruction of the breast is usually needed after a mastectomy or other disease, such as severe fibrocystic disease, or from distortion of the breast due to trauma or burns. It is possible to create a breast that can closely resembles and feels like the natural breast.
With the rising awareness of possible immediate breast reconstruction, more patients are now requesting this procedure. This option is not the best for every patient but you should discuss it with your plastic surgeon.
Breast reconstruction has no known adverse effects on detection of breast cancer recurrence. It should not interfere with either chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If you have an implant as part of your reconstruction, there may be some interference with the reading of your mammogram that may require that you take special views or extra procedures like ultrasound, to examine your breasts.
Breast reconstruction is usually performed in a hospital. General anesthesia is usually used for this procedure.
Like any surgical procedure, there is some risk and possible complications involved. Discuss these risks and complications in details with your plastic surgeon.
There are many options for breast reconstruction:
- Skin Expansion: Skin expansion and insertion of an implant. This is a two stage procedure which requires placement of an expander at the first stage followed by serial expansions with saline injections. The second stage is removal of the expander and placement of a permanent implant;
- Flap reconstruction: This procedure involves creation of a skin flap using your own tissue taken from the back, abdomen, or buttocks, etc. In many cases, placement of an implant will not be necessary as the tissue will provide enough bulk by itself for the newly constructed breast;
- Follow-up procedures: If desired, these may be needed to reconstruct the nipple and the areola, modify the shape or size of the other breast, or replace a tissue expander with an implant. Your surgeon will explain to you the details of these follow up procedures.
Your hospital stay will vary from 1-5 days. You may need about six weeks of recovery before going back to work.